Playing the part: portraying politicans
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Among the many traditions at Townsend Harris, the annual election simulation is highly anticipated as seniors assume the roles of high-profile politicians and simulate the campaign season, but this year the program is far more controversial with the iconic presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
With the incentive of five extra credit points awarded to the students who win their respective races, the election simulation brings out the competitiveness of students.
In past years, bake sales, surprise appearances, and clever commercials have swayed the votes of many underclassmen.
Often candidates used absurd antics to gain a humor vote from students; many still view this as the forum to gain political knowledge and evaluate how the candidates are in reality. Sophomore Jesse Anderson states that he is “excited to see how clever and creative each c and i d a t e c a n g e t a s they try to win votes.”
This year’s election, however, involves the distinct personalities of Trump and Hillary, which bring new factors into the question of accuracy when it comes to portrayals.
Jesse says, “Hillary and Trump have unique personalities that they can be identified from, and I hope the seniors playing the candidates stay true to the person they’re playing.”
Junior Alexandra Ge stresses the performance of the students, saying, “It’s not about who gave us the most free candy or the best bake sales, but honestly it’s about how the candidate carries himself or herself.”
We have seen some antics already occur as Daniel Khaldarov, playing Donald Trump, interrupted Misbah Pochi, playing Hillary Clinton, during a radio show interview. A video of this was posted on Dona l d Trump’s instagram as a means of advertising.
The actual debates between Trump and Clinton have been big topics of discussion within the U.S. Many found their responses underwhelming and unpresidential.
Alexandra comments, “It’s crazy that we have to listen to them call each other out. How are we supposed to put our trust into them leading our country? Personally, I think we shouldn’t replicate this petty behavior in our election.”
For students like junior Karolina Grodzki, the debate between Trump and Clinton in the simulation is the most deciding factor in the campaign.
She commented, “I can learn more about the candidates when I see them on stage at the same time. This makes it easier for me to understand the differences between their ideas and it’s also very amusing.”
Sophomore Max Kurant believes the real-life debate to be “one of the most complex to date” and he has “very high doubts about our simulation accurately reflecting it.”
The candidates reach out to the student body in multiple ways, as information is being uploaded both on the official election website and through various social media accounts.
Most candidates are using Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook as a way to communicate with voters, through small advertisements like videos or pictures.
However, social media has also been used to shed light on candidates misbehaving, as aforementioned with Trump posting a video of himself hijacking Clinton’s radio show interview.
Ishabul comments, “We simply posted a video to inform all the students of Townsend Harris of what went on. This event shouldn’t be limited to those who have a history class band three.”
With actions like this taking place, students call into question whether the candidates should be allowed to do these things, especially when it comes to truly replicating Trump.
There are two opposing sides to this question, one that views the actions as simply embodying the character while the other views it as e x t rava gant and unnecessary.
A l e x an d r a states, “I really hope they don’t censor Trump’s comments because we need to be exposed to who he really is; the same goes for Clinton.”
She continues, “immigration and gun control and feminism and global warming are all hot topics and we shouldn’t just beat around the bush. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak out about what matters.”
Dr. Linda Steinmann, in charge of the simulation, commented on the inclusion of Trump’s most recent controversy surrounding a video in which he makes lewd remarks about women.
“The Election Simulation is designed to be a learning experience for all the participants. We recognize that in real life Mr. Trump (and Secretary Clinton) have done and said some things that we might not find appropriate. The students playing the roles know that repeating those things will not get them votes in THHS, especially misogynistic comments, as we witnessed in last year’s debate. There are no rules about this, but the teachers have made it clear that modeling the real candidates is acceptable only as far as no student would feel uncomfortable or insulted by their conduct,” she says.